United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

"Talent and Time"
Minister Kim Braxton
November 15, 2020


Lectionary Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30


Main Lesson: God gives talent, Use your talent for God, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it. Lectionary Scripture: The Parable of the Talents



   14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received the five talents immediately went and did business with them, and earned five more talents. 17 In the same way the one who had received the two talents earned two more. 18 But he who received the one talent went away and dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.


   19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have earned five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter the joy of your master.’


  22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have earned two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter the joy of your master.’




   24 “Now the one who had received the one talent also came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed. 25 And I was afraid, so I went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you still have what is yours.’


  26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You worthless, lazy slave! Did you know that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter seed? 27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 Therefore: take the talent away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’


  29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 And throw the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.



   Title: Talent & Time

   Last week Pastor Becca spoke about the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids and this week’s lectionary selection builds on that foundation and we continue with the Parable of the Talents. One of the aspects of Jesus’ parables is that they disarm your arguments and leave the reader standing bare in the text confronting truth with the option to accept or reject the lesson being taught. From this week’s passage of scripture there are three points we can observe: 1) God provides us with talents; 2) We need to use our talents for God and 3) If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.




 Observation #1: God Provides Us With ‘Talents’


   In case you didn’t know a “Talent” in this verse represents two things – first it is an ancient measure of money. Some scholars estimate that a “Talent” would be worth approximately $400,000 today. So in our reading this morning we can estimate that the Servant that received 5 Talents had about $2 MM to manage for his Master. Secondly a “Talent” in this text also represents of the 3 | P a g e gifts and talents that God provides to all of His children. According to 1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” As Christians we need to be good stewards of our gifts and abilities.


    The Master in this story didn’t ask the three servants to create something out of nothing. He wasn’t cruel like Pharoah in the Old Testament telling the Israelites to make bricks without providing straw (Exodus 5:7) Verse 15 states that the Talents were distributed to each one according to their ability. They received their talents from the Master so they could do work for the Master. Similarly we are equipped for service by God. Ephesians 4:7-8 states “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” This leads us to the next point.




 Observation #2: Talents Are Meant To Be Used.


   When the master distributes his resources, the talents to the servants no specific instruction was given; however it is implied that he expected them to manage his assets during his absence.

   These servants were going to be his financial representatives while he was away. The Master didn’t expect the servants to hold onto the money, watch it, and return it to him. He wanted a return on his investment. He wanted these servants to put those talents to work. He gave them the talents betterment of his estate and increase his holdings. There’s an expression, “It takes money to make money.”


   These financial talents were like seed money for each of these slaves and they were expected to make it work for him.


   In the same way the Lord has gifted us each with unique gifts and abilities, talents. These talents and gifts weren’t entrusted to us so we can put them on display. They aren’t decorative. Let me give you an example. A group of missionaries went to a small village in Africa to spread the gospel. One of the volunteers in the group was a bodybuilder. When he arrived in the village people came out to see him. He was huge! Bulging biceps, The overdeveloped pecs and chiseled leg muscles. A neck the size of a quaker oats box. He was impressively large and the villagers had never seen anyone that was built up like him. One of the villagers asked him, “What do you do with all of those muscles?” The body builder said, “Well, let me show you.” And he proceeded to strike various bodybuilding poses. When he was finished he looked at the villager waiting for some kind of praise or an expression of awe. Instead the villager shook his head and said, “What a waste.” Turned and walked away. The bodybuilder’s muscles were grown just for show. They were decorative, ornamental. They weren’t of any practical use. Those muscles didn’t help to dig wells, they didn’t carry water, they didn’t help to build things. They were just there to be displayed - - no practical or beneficial use to anyone for anything. And if we don’t use the talents and gifts that have been entrusted to us to use for the benefit of His Kingdom we become like that bodybuilder. All show. No action.


   Back to the text - - the first two of servants understood the Master’s wishes and in Verses 16 and 17 tell us that Servant 5 talents and Servant 2 talents immediately went about putting their talents to work when the Master departed. The text tells us that they both received a 100% return from investing the master’s investment. Servants 5 and 2 didn’t waste any time executing their plans. Why? They didn’t know when the Master was scheduled to return.


   And if he came back early he would have found them busy being about their Master’s business. They put the work in right away and reaped the reward. They put their talents to use.


   Not so with Servant One Talent - - chose not to use his talent. Instead he dug a hole in the ground and hid his talent He didn’t want to take the risk of losing anything, so he did nothing. On the surface this could look like an ancient times conservative investment option. In our modern-day financial thinking Servant One Talent chose not to invest in a high risk, venture capital opportunity he was pitched on Shark Tank. Instead he put his money in a mattress for safe keeping. Servant One Talent didn’t respect the Master enough to complete his wishes. He exerted No effort. NONE! He wanted to put in the ABSOLUTE LEAST amount of effort into this assignment. We’ve all encountered people like this – from Starbucks to the Supermarket. You can tell when a worker has a nasty bitter attitude about where they work and who they work for. People just want to put their time in and go home. There is no effort exerted at all. If you’re in Starbucks and you wanted extra fluffy hot foam on your cappuccino…. Well you better take this lukewarm flat milk and put it in the microwave.



    At the supermarket you ask to have your meat packed separate from your cleaning products at checkout. Well the cleaning products are in containers and the meat is wrapped. So technically they are separate. Have a nice day. Now I exaggerate to make a point. But we all know a lackluster mediocre effort when we see one. Servant One Talent’s laziness and reluctance to use the talent that had been given to him was a waste of the Master’s resources. Which brings us to the final Observation.




    Observation #3: If You Don’t Use It, You’ll Lose it.


   When the Master returns from his journey the bible isn’t specific about the span of time but according to Verse 19 he was away for awhile. Servant 5 Talents and Servant 2 Talents both generated a 100% return on his investment.


  The master was pleased and told them both “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter the joy of your master.’” Then it was time for Servant 1 Talent to give an account to the Master.


    He started by telling the master that he knew he him to “be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed.” He was accusing the Master of being cruel and dishonest. In essence he attempted to blame the Master’s cruel disposition for his lack of initiative and laziness. He assumed that the Master would be satisfied that he was able to give him back the original $400,000 that was entrusted to him.


    Well he was wrong. The master was furious! When the Master handed over the Talents to the servants based on their respective abilities he expected an increase in value.

   Servant One Talent didn’t have to have the financial abilities of Servant 5 Talents but he could have done something. He had the Talent for a reason but instead of following the Master’s instruction he forgo any effort and gave into laziness. Maybe he thought since the master was away, and he didn’t see him not working it would be okay. But the Master points out if he had made the minimal amount of effort and put it in the bank he would have at least gotten interest from the original amount.


     This servant was about to face the consequences of his disobedience and inaction. In the same way that his Servant 5 Talents (now known as 10 Talents) and Servant 2 Talents (now known as 4 Talents) were blessed and rewarded for their hard work and diligent service he was going to receive the opposite. Punishment and judgement. His single talent was taken from him and given to Servant 10 Talents. Why? Since he didn’t use his talent the Master gave it someone that he knew would put it to good use.


    In the same way God has gifted all of us with unique gifts and talents. And what a waste it would be if we all kept our skills to ourselves.


  I am guilty of not placing an emphasis on eschatology in my teaching however as Christians we believe and confess that one day Christ will return. I Thessalonians 5:2 states, “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.“ When He returns and it’s our time to give an account for how we used the talents, skills, gifts and abilities that He entrusted us to be good stewards over. When that time comes will we be able to give a report like Servant 11 Talents that we used everything He gave us to the best of our ability.

   Or will we stand before Him like Servant Zero Talents - - we were afraid to do anything so we did nothing with all that He entrusted us with.


   He gave us the talents but the choice of what we do with them is ours to make.